DETROIT (WJBK) - There were 12 school leaders charged Tuesday as part of a $2.7 million bribery scheme. One of those is the principal at Spain Elementary, who got a big donation from Ellen Degeneres earlier this year and he could be heading the court house and then the big house.
Ronald Anderson was recognized just last month by Ellen and her show with a huge gift. Tuesday, he was recognized for being caught up in the bribery charges leveled by U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade.
The bribery charges were announced against several current and former Detroit Public School principals. According to the the attorney's office, school leaders would take bribes while a company that was supposed to be providing school supplies would submit fraudulent invoices.
The investigation took years to complete and U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said Norman Shy, of Allstate Supplies, received a total of $5 million in payments, $2.7 million of which was fraudulent. McQuade said Shy paid a total of $900,000 in bribes to the school officials.
Retired federal judge Steven Rhodes oversaw Detroit's bankruptcy and now he's the transition manager of DPS. He had a front row seat for what the feds say is a rampant moral bankruptcy of a dozen school principals and administrators.
"The actions of these individuals are reprehensible, and they represent a breech of the public trust that has deprived our students of more than $2.7 millions in resources," Rhodes said. "It disturbs me greatly that we lost $2.7 million that could have been used to educate children."
In response to the charges, Rhodes immediately implemented seven safeguards:
- Schools cannot make purchases directly.
- Headquarters must approve school purchases
- School vendor contracts need central office approval.
- School-based invoices need two signatures.
- The school district will review all purchases made by indicted officials
- They will review all school-based vendor contracts.
- Finally, there will be an independent audit of all purchase procedures
"I call upon everyone who is interested in creating a successful future for public education in Detroit to forge ahead with full attention to the needs and interests of our children," Rhodes said.
The latest setback for DPS hurts not only the district's present students, but its ability to regain the faith of Detroiters. Something Rhodes said the school district desperately needed.
"i think how of how many teachers we could have hired and paid with that amount of money and it breaks my heart that we have to suffer this because it does impact our children," he said. "Now it's on us to try to rebuild that trust."